Public sector bank employees go on 2-day strike
On Thursday the operations across India’s public sector bank employees went on a two-day strike. According to the unions, approximately 9 lakh employees of PSBs (public sector banks) went on strike protesting against the decision of the government to privatize state-owned banks. Daily services of these banks like cash withdrawals, loan approvals and cheque clearances faced a major hit, pushing customers to face difficulties.
The strike will continue on Friday as well. The protest has been called across India by the United Forum of Bank Unions (UFBU) against the government’s decision to privatize two more state-run lenders during this fiscal. UFBU is a body that constitutes nine unions, including All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) and National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW).
The banks under the public sector that had shut down their operations on Thursday included State Bank of India (SBI), Punjab National Bank, and Bank of India. The message had been sent to customers informing them about the two-day strike. Apart from PSBs employees, many private sector bank employees too had joined the strike, along with regional rural banks. Unions said, “Bank employees right from sweepers to senior executives in scale 5 are observing the two-day strike on December 16 and 17.”
Due to suspended operations on Thursday, about 20.4 lakh cheques worth Rs 18,600 crore could not be transacted across India, said AIBEA General Secretary C H Venkatachalam. “PSBs act as catalysts in the economic development of our nation in general and particularly for the underprivileged sections of the society and backward regions of the country.”
“Nationalised banks have played a major role in the development of agriculture, small trade, small business, SSI, transport and in the upliftment of weaker sections of the society,” Venkatachalam said.
The strike by PSB employees has been supported by many political parties including Congress, CPI, CPM, DMK, NCP, TMC, and Shiv Sena. In February, during the presentation of the Union Budget in Parliament, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced that two PSBs would be privatized under the Centre’s disinvestment plan. To facilitate this, the government has listed Banking Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2021, that would be introduced and passed during the current session of Parliament.